Monday, April 30, 2012

The garden is on steroids - compost!

Seriously, something happened in the span of a week that made my plants double in size. As the previous owners just posted on their own blog, it must be the compost. I ran around the garden Saturday morning after being away for a week, "Look at that! This one was half this size last week, OMG, etc."

The biggest difference was in the tomatoes. We bought ten tomatoes plants all the same size. I had one left still in it's pot that was waiting for a space. The ones I had planted the week before were twice the size of the little one. See the wimpy one in the back right of the bed? That's the newbie. Oh and that post? I need to pound it down more but it's from the previous owners who swear by this method to deeply water their tomatoes. We're going to do an experiment and compare sides this summer.

The strawberry bed is kicking in too. We planted thirty-six plants, enough to feed a family of four. A few strawberries here and there are ripe, enough to bring a smile on your face when you take a bite. There's nothing like a homegrown strawberry, they're so much sweeter than even the ones from the farmer's market. Why is that?

On the inside of the house, we're getting the kitchen ready for a bumper crop just in time for summer. Gutted and gone!

Our contractor is working at a furious pace and hopes to be done by the end of May. In the meantime, here was this week's harvest in three acts. Chard and spinach, lots and lots of it.

Peas, broccoli and a lemon. These peas are from seedlings planted in November. Lots more coming next month.

Green onions, lettuce, radishes, parsley, mint and chervil.

Next weekend will be all about the watermelon and pumpkin beds, the last beds to be ready for planting. Then the hard work will be done!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The transformation in the vegetable garden!

I was thrilled to step into my backyard last weekend to see this! Welcome to the newly mulched vegetable garden.

Morning glories are on their way up this arbor.
It looks even better than I imagined. Weeds all gone (I only wish the gopher was gone too, grrr).  I can now see lots more room for expanding those raised beds one day. The mulch will hold us over until we 'live' with the layout for a year and decide how to redesign it, if we even do. At the moment, we've got our hands full with the rest of the house as well.

A little seating area would be perfect right here.
 I spent the entire weekend going over the existing irrigation, updating and expanding it. I also mulched and netted the strawberry bed to keep those sweet birds off my food. I planted a first flush of pole bean seeds in their own bed. They'll be kept company with some love lies bleeding and calendula flowers tucked into the corners.

Kentucky Wonder beans on the outside and Purple Podded in the center.
The rest of the garden is filling in fast as well. The irises are in full bloom now. Not my first pick of flower colors but at least there's something. Beyond the irises is the vegetable garden area with broccoli, garlic and english peas reaching high.

Speaking of growing. I think we're more than set with chard plants. In addition to these babies I salvaged from the existing garden last year, my daughter's raised bed has twelve more that are almost ready for harvesting. Good thing we love chard!

And as if I didn't have enough raised beds, I built another one this month. This one will hold a lot of herbs. I plan to keep a fair amount of herbs in the main garden as well as natural pest deterrents but needed an extra spot for my tea herbs and those cuttings you need in a quick pinch when you're in the middle of cooking. The herb bed is located between our outdoor patio and covered porch.

We built the bed with cedar boards and plan to add a seating lip around it for parties. I can't tell you how many wheelbarrows or compost and soil it took to fill it. My back knows. The bed is filled with two determinate cherry tomatoes, chives, lemon balm, tarragon, savory, chamomile, four mints (in their own pots), thyme and allyssum. We also planted scarlet runner beans and perpetual spinach to climb up the trellis and block out some of the fierce afternoon sun.

And last but not least, the fruit is coming! These are cherry plums above that the previous owners used to make jam. Check out my flikr page to see all the other fruits developing in the garden. This weekend will be all about preparing the last two raised beds for melons plus some more inter and succession planting. It's settling down finally!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The anticipation is killing me ...

I'm heading up to Sonoma this morning to see what progress (if any) has been made on the giant mulch job of the garden paths. See all those weeds? They grew even higher after this picture was taken in March.

The gardeners said they would lay down mulch sometime last week. Fingers crossed they actually did it. If so, I'll have some incredible transformation photos to share. I'll spend all weekend redoing the battered irrigation lines that run all over the place. We've been hard at work ourselves in another part of the yard, building yet another raised bed, this one for herbs that will be located closer to the back door.

See that flat patch in front of the lattice? It's now much higher off the ground. My husband built an amazing contraption that I'll be busy filling in with loads and loads and loads of compost this weekend (my back is already crying). The bed will be 3'x8', lots of plants to slip in the soil this weekend as well. And just maybe I'll have a few moments of this too.

Maybe I'll have a little time to do some of this as well. It will have to be iced though, it's supposed to be 85 this weekend!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Spring break

Just a few images of the garden from the past few weeks. The cherry tree was in full bloom last week. Beautiful! This more than makes up for the terrible formatting blogger is having right now, grrrr.

There is fruit developing on some of the trees already, mostly the plums. The peach and nectarine trees were hit hard by the late rain leaving lots of peach leaf curl. I sprayed three times like I was supposed to but apparently that doesn't matter if the rains come late. No one is sure how much fruit we'll see this year. The same thing happened last year in Sonoma county.
Peach leaf curl on one of the peach trees.

The square foot garden beds are starting to fill in. I was able to plant some peppers this past week, fingers crossed no late freezes! I chose a red and yellow bell pepper and two padrone pepper plants. Padrones have been all the rage in the bay area the past few years. They're amazing grilled in some oil and salt.

Radishes, carrots, beets, lettuces, peppers, tarragon, calendula and cosmos.
Even though the ladybugs are everywhere in Sonoma this month, we let a few more free in the garden one evening. They seem to be especially happy in the artichokes.

My daughter's garden bed is growing quickly. It's the first bed we planted after moving in. She picked out two cherry tomato plants over the weekend at the Tomatomania festival here. We'll have to figure out where to squeeze those in. We chose eight more for the rest of the garden. I have no idea where I'll plant them.

Chard, broccoli, oregano, parsley, radishes, carrots and stray onions.

Monday, April 2, 2012

April in the Garden

It's been two weeks since I last saw the garden and a lot has happened since then. The harvest is growing! Three baskets worth this week.

Green onions, oregano, thyme, asparagus, parsley, snap peas, chives.


Besides the weeds taking over even more of the beds (one more week until the gardener's mulch the paths, I can't wait), my seeds have taken off.

Merlo Nero Spinach seedlings.
Those peas I planted back in the fall are growing tall and we're able to enjoy some snap peas off the vine. Next year, I will plant lots more snaps.

There are even tiny little figs growing on the fig tree.

This month is when the rest of the planting happens: pole beans, melons, tomatoes, peppers, and all those flowers to encourage beneficials into the garden. There are lots more pics of the new growth on my flikr site here.